Monday, 19 January 2009

Rhubarb and Berry Sago

I've been hacking about in the garden, planting inedible screening things like an oleander and a banksia rose, and I've brought in another kilo of rhubarb. It's really taken off this year, but it remains very green.

I've googled it, and most likely it's not a problem of soil or light; it's just a green variety. At least, one such green kind is frost hardy. I don't remember it saying that on the label, but plant labels are often a bit lacking. I was very cross a couple of years ago when I bought some creepers from Bunnings, and they died totally in the first frost. And yes, I did buy then from an outlet in Canberra. I learned my lesson; I stick with the specialist nurseries now.

So far I've cooked some of it straight, with just sugar, and I've put rosewater, vanilla and cochineal in another batch. And I've given some away - Belinda says saffron is nice with the rhubarb, but the colour is ridiculously awful. This time I've split it into two batches. One I cooked with lemon and sugar, and have stuck in the freezer for winter. The other one turned into a rhubarb and berry sago - the berries provided an amazingly bright colour.

Recipe: Rhubarb and raspberry sago
1/2 kg finely sliced red rhubarb
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/5 ltr late-picked white wine
1/2 vanilla bean split
1 and 1/2 tbspn sago
80 g caster sugar
1/2 kg frozen raspberries
1/4 cup water

Place rhubarb, water, lemon zest, sugar, vanilla and wine into a non-reactive pan
Bring to simmering point.
Add sago, reduce heat, place pot on a simmer mat and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Tip in frozen berries, cook for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until berries are just thawed and the mix just returns to the simmer.

Allow to cool before serving. The colour will intensify as it cools and the sago will continue to swell.

Notes: first, this isn't an original. The source is here, and it's by Stephanie Alexander.

I've followed it pretty closely - sago needs some precision, as a small amount makes a big difference. 1.5 Australian tablespoons is 30ml, or 2 tablespoons for the rest of the world. The only change I made was to have a few other berries in it. I didn't have half a kilo of frozen raspberries on hand. I had about 200gm and for the rest I used a pack of mixed frozen berries - not the one with the black currants.

It makes a pretty good low fat dessert - or possibly a slightly decadent breakfast, with yoghurt. I'm not 100% happy with it - it's very sharp and needs more sugar. And I say that as one with a taste for bitter and sour flavours. The rhubarb flavour is rather overwhelmed by the berries. Also, the sago texture is mostly lost - it acts as a thickener here, not a feature. It's not set, and the little granules aren't noticeable among the berries.

This may be a plus if you don't like rhubarb or sago, but I do. Which is why I looked for a rhubarb sago recipe in the first place. Oh well, I can try and invent my own next time.


Liz from Melbourne said...

We have a lot of apricots and I'm about to pick my first crop of rhubarb. I was thinking a crumble but any nice (easy) suggestions would be welcome.
Love reading your blog. I have family there in Canberra and really want to make time for a visit this year.

Cath said...

Thank you.

I'm not into hot desserts at the moment - a crumble would be great, so I'm freezing some for later. Mostly I'm just eating it with yoghurt and cereal for breakfast.

Bells said...

thanks for this. I keep waiting for mine to turn red - it's huge and green. I guess I'll just go ahead and eat it!